On Travel

“Allow me to introduce myself — first negatively.

“No landlord is my friend and brother, no chambermaid loves me, no waiter worships me… No round of beef or tongue or ham is expressly cooked for me, no pigeon-pie is especially made for me, no hotel advertisement is personally addressed to me, no hotel room tapestried with greatcoats and railway wrappers is set apart for me, no house of public entertainment in the United Kingdom greatly cares for my opinion of its brandy or sherry.”

— Charles Dickens, The Uncommercial Traveler (1860)

It’s Not Polite

“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.”

— Variously said to be an old Chinese proverb, a saying inside a fortune cookie, found in a box of ginger snaps, or done in needlepoint on a pillow.

Love Song

“Come into the garden, Fred,
For the neighborhood tabby is gone.
Come into the garden, Fred.
I have nothing but my flea collar on,
And the scent of catnip has gone to my head.
I’ll wait by the screen door till dawn.”

— from “Alley Cat Love Song” by Dana Gioia, collected in Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, edited by Billy Collins (2003)


“We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or just sorting the laundry.” — E.B. White, from Letters of E.B. White, quoted in the April 2008 Real Simple

It is always a pleasure to hear from E.B. White, a writer whose thoughts have been informing and blessing me since boyhood. This latest quote brought to mind our recent purchase of a Whitney Design Woven-Seagrass Triple Laundry Sorter, and the joy it has brought into our lives. No more upending the old hamper to find just the darks, sorting into piles, then stuffing the lights and towels back in. Now each item has a home from the instant it’s deemed dirty, with a lid that closes quietly over it, yet opens easily when it’s time to trot the washer through its frothy paces. The first day I sorted my clothes on the fly, I said to my wife, “This is the most fun I’ve had since we alphabetized the spices.”

Priorities, Distractions

Photo by Annie Liebowitz

“I wish we could prioritize so that we were actually talking about issues of global justice and debt remission and global warming and so on. I mean, there’s something very bizarre about the rich arguing about sex while the poor are clamoring for justice.”

— N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, quoted in Newsweek, May 5, 2008, discussing an upcoming Anglican conference where sexuality will top the agenda

— Photograph of Miley Cyrus by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair